Thursday, April 28, 2016

Recording: Christine Duncan/Patrick O'Reilly/Laura Swankey

Artist: Christine Duncan/Patrick O'Reilly/Laura Swankey

Songs: [two excerpts]

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), April 20, 2016.

Christine Duncan/Patrick O'Reilly/Laura Swankey - [set 1 excerpt]

Christine Duncan/Patrick O'Reilly/Laura Swankey - [set 2 excerpt]

Excellent work here from three fab improvisers. I'd seen Christine Duncan and Laura Swankey vocalizing together a couple months ago, so it was interesting to watch their chemistry continuing to develop. Meanwhile, Patrick O'Reilly added a wide range of sonic backgrounds on guitar, his pedals helping him to move from percussive krrchings to ambient textures.

There's an amazing bit of improvised beauty in the second piece — there's a couple minutes in the middle of this chunk that are at a lower level than is easy to listen to, but something really magical happens. Duncan starts into a meditation on choices, and riffs for a bit on the notion of "a bird in the hand", and then into a meditation on what's near to your hand right now, and what you could choose to do with it.

The others drop out, and Duncan continues in almost a whisper. Then there's a long pause, and she concludes (at around the 4:00 of this excerpt), "think about it" — and for a second it feels as if that's going to be it. But then, she re-gathers her thoughts and delivers a spontaneous secular sermon on choice and presence and it's just wonderful. And speaking of choices, listen how O'Reilly and Swankey come back in to shimmer around Duncan's words as they pull everything back into a giant crane shot/psychic hug to close it out.

Recording: No Octopus Dances

Artist: No Octopus Dances

Song: [set 2, first piece] (excerpt)

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), April 20, 2016.

No Octopus Dances - [set 2, first piece] (excerpt)

In light of Inky's valiant escape from captivity, there was some talk from the stage on whether the band's moniker, at least on this night, should be the more celebratory "Octopus Dances". Meanwhile, percussionists Germaine Liu and Mark Zurawinski challenged themselves by stripping their kits back to no more than a snare apiece, along with a variety of bricabrac at their feet. There was still plenty of inventive rings and rattles while Allison Cameron mixed in some distorto-banjo to her warped keyb jigs and Stephen Parkinson added his stabbing guitar worries.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Recording: The Beverleys

Artist: The Beverleys

Songs: Hush + Hoodwink

Recorded at Smiling Buddha, April 16, 2016.

The Beverleys - Hush

The Beverleys - Hoodwink

Bands don't last forever. One gets used to the natural cycle of things, but the announcement that The Bevs' vinyl release show (for last year's excellent Brutal) was also serving as their farewell was a bit of a shock. Still, even if it leaves a pang of regret for songs not written and shows not played, maybe there's something to be said for going out on top, and leaving with a big party in a room filled with friends. Aside from a quick "we're never playing here again!" quip while sorting out some recalcitrant gear, the band mostly let the music do the talking, playing pretty much everything in their songbook one last time. This was a damn fine band that I was glad to get to see and document — all the best to 'em going forward.

Recording: Surinam

Artist: Surinam

Song: unknown*

Recorded at Smiling Buddha, April 16, 2016.

Surinam - unknown

There was more new material in the band's setlist — the songs from last year's tape are mostly in the past now. As well, Ami Spears (recently departed from Crosss) is now in the fold on keybs. Her role seems to be to add drones under the surface of the music — sometimes you can't entirely hear them in the din, but you can feel that there's some extra menace lurking beneath the surface.

* Does anyone know the title to this one? Please leave a comment!

Recording: Plasmalab

Artist: Plasmalab

Song: Blackout

Recorded at Smiling Buddha, April 16, 2016.

Plasmalab - Blackout

A Beverleys show was the right place to discover this self-proclaimed "junk rok" trio — they featured a pop streak that would come in and out of focus from song to song, sometimes working harder to just pummel through than work in the hooks. With nearly as many hints of LiLiPUT as the Stones, this was a bracing, quick set to set start off a happy-sad night.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Concert Listings Roundup #146

You can read more about why I'm doing listings here. Long story short: This curated and decidedly non-comprehensive list contains nothin' but shows that I am going to/would go to if I had more time.


Gigs of the week:

Baby Cages (Jo Passed / Secret Sign / Brigitte Bardon't) / The Silver Dollar Room 2016-04-28 (Thursday) [FB event]

Womxn Pedalling ["a new performance, workshop and gathering series curated by Lido Pimienta showcasing womxn in music + exploring the use of loopers and pedal stations as core tools for music composition and performance"] (feat. Alissa Vox RAW / New Chance / Kira May / Witch Prophet) / Gladstone Hotel 2016-04-28 (Thursday) [FB event]

Two cool shows on Thursday night, and to be honest, I have no idea where I'll end up yet. But it's cool, in any event, to see some boundary-pushing shows on local stages and a whole lotta woman power. (On that theme, and pushing things in a different direction on that same night, Zimbabwean a cappella group Nobuntu are at Lula Lounge.)


This week's noteworthy shows:

Bloop/Unexplained Sounds (feat. Lina Allemano/Mike Smith/Germaine Liu/Nick Fraser) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2016-04-26 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Arts & Letters Club Music Salon (feat. Andréa Tyniec / Jonathan Krehm / The Canadian Electronic Ensemble) / Arts & Letters Club 2016-04-26 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Burn Down The Capital presents (feat. Circuit Des Yeux / Marisa Anderson / Michael Keith / Myk Freedman) / Ratio 2016-04-27 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Omhouse (Luka / Stephen Steinbrink) / Smiling Buddha 2016-04-28 (Thursday) [FB event]

Nobuntu ["all-female a cappella group from Zimbabwe"] / Lula Lounge 2016-04-28 (Thursday) [FB event]

St. Dirt Elementary School [15th Anniversary!] (DUST: The Quietest Big Band in the Known World) / The Music Gallery 2016-04-29 (Friday) [FB event]

LAL [Find Safety album release concert!] (Too Attached / Marshia Celina) / Lee's Palace 2016-04-29 (Friday) [FB event]

The Ryan Driver Sextet / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2016-04-29 (Friday)

Rheostatics (Amelia Curran) / Massey Hall 2016-04-29 (Friday) [more info]

Eucalyptus [April Saturdays residency!] / Hirut Restaurant 2016-04-30 (Saturday – Good eats available but not obligatory! early show 7 to 10 p.m.!) [FB event]

Reel Cod presents (feat. Village [Drag LP release!] / Mimico / The Sulks / Processor) / Smiling Buddha 2016-04-30 (Saturday) [FB event]

Burn Down The Capital (feat. Brahja Waldman / Thom Gill / Khora & Mas Aya / Hobson's Choice) / Ratio 2016-04-30 (Saturday) [FB event]

Astrosurf [EP release!] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2016-04-30 (Saturday) [FB event]

Spectrum Music: La Suite Du Petit Prince/The Little Prince Suite ["an enchanting blend of storytelling and music based on the novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry"] / Alliance Française de Toronto 2016-05-01 (Sunday – afternoon show! free for kids!) [FB event]

Collective Improvisation with Avesta Nakhaei / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2016-05-01 (Sunday — afternoon show, 2:30–4:30 p.m.!)

Tamara Sandor [album launch!] (Bernice / Blunt Chunks) / Burdock Music Hall 2016-05-01 (Sunday) [FB event]

Nite Comfort 33 (feat. Onewayness / G Group) / Handlebar 2016-05-01 (Sunday) [FB event]


Add these to your calendar:

Reminder: This post only contains this week's updates — the full listings can always be found over on the right-hand sidebar!

Greys [Outer Heaven album release party!] (TV Freaks / Casper Skulls) / The Garrison 2016-05-13 (Friday) [FB event]

Audiopollination #42.1 (Rob Carroll/Tiina Kiik/John Yelland / Neil Wiernik/Clara Engel / Dimitar Pentchev/Melissa J/Darlene Cuevas / Carter Thornton) / Array Space 2016-05-14 (Saturday) [FB event]

Uh Bones (The Sulks / Terror Lake / Sprawls) / The 300 Club 2016-05-14 (Saturday) [FB event]

Iderdown (Dirty Inputs / organdrum) / Smiling Buddha 2016-05-17 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Lab Coast (Century Palm / Dorothea Paas) / Burdock Music Hall 2016-05-18 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Whimm (Homebody / Poster Boy / Lizzy Boredom) / The Silver Dollar Room 2016-05-18 (Wednesday) [FB event]

B-17 [Goodbye record release show!] (Prince Ness / Glass Slipper / Sissy Boy) / The Silver Dollar Room 2016-05-20 (Friday) [FB event]

Audiopollination #42.2 (feat. The Lady Hedonism Consort of Toronto [Ilana Waniuk/Laura Bates/Aline Homzy/Sanaz Nakhjavani/Heather Segger/Nicole Rampersaud/Bea Labikova/Alexandra Spence/Laura Swankey/Zoe Alexis-Abrams/Nilan Perera] / Alexandra Spence/Diane Roblin / Alexandra Spence/Paul Newman) / Array Space 2016-05-22 (Sunday) [FB event]

Shotgun Jimmie (Canyon Carvers / LUKA) / Monarch Tavern 2016-05-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Veda Hille (John Southworth) / Burdock Music Hall 2016-06-02 (Thursday) [FB event]

CCMC [rare "collective" appearance featuring past and current CCMC members playing in various combinations and also as a large ensemble] / Gallery 345 2016-06-11 (Saturday) [FB event]

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Recording: EAR-CAM

Artist: EAR-CAM

Songs: [two excerpts]

Recorded at The Tranzac (Tiki Room), April 16, 2016.

EAR-CAM - [first set, excerpt 1]

EAR-CAM - [first set, excerpt 2]

Another in an intermittent series of reunions from this longstanding improvising force saw the group's numbers reduced with vocal soundmaker Nobuo Kubota absent. He did, however, make some virtual appearances via Glen Hall's cataRT sound manipulations, which also included some cut up Burroughs vocals. Embroidered by Tomasz Krakowiak's quietly-minimalist percussion, that left Hall and John Oswald's reed work to compete with Christine Duncan's vocal adventures. In the second set there was increased competition for the audience's eyeballs when the freeform music was accompanied by some equally abstract tap dancing.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Recording: ZONES

Artist: ZONES

Song: unknown*

Recorded at Sonic Boom (Record Store Day), April 16, 2016.

ZONES - unknown

I was sad to have missed the celebration party for Zones' new album, but with a big sub in place at Sonic Boom, it was an ample reward to hear the band experimenting with some new rhythms. No longer just woozing with their dub-psychedelic layers of echo-haze, there were also excursions like this that skewed more towards mutant disco.

* I'm not sure if this a new track, or something that got reworked a bit from its previous form — lemme know if you can work out the title to this one.

Recording: Eucalyptus

Artist: Eucalyptus

Song: Narcalypso

Recorded at Sonic Boom (Record Store Day), April 16, 2016.

Eucalyptus - Narcalypso

In the midst of their every-Saturday-in-April residency and sporting a new tape with two new long tunes, Brodie West's recent preoccupation with percussion was on display here with the band now sporting three percussionists (Blake Howard, Evan Cartwright and Nick Fraser). Trumpeter Nicole Rampersaud was unavailable for this one, so it gave the back line all the more space for rhythmic interplay in a mix of older tunes with new stuff, like the infectiously singalong stop-and-go rhythms of "Stop and Go".

[Eucalyptus' residency continues with shows tonight (April 23) and next Saturday at Hirut Restaurant, just steps from Woodbine subway station.]

Recording: Partner

Artist: Partner

Song: Lesbian Green Day

Recorded at Sonic Boom (Record Store Day), April 16, 2016.

Partner - Lesbian Green Day

Leading off an excellently-programmed afternoon of free in-store entertainment for Record Store Day, Partner once again eschewed their rhythm section and guitar solos to play a stripped-down set. Sometimes (as with "Everyone Knows You're High") that is a means to showcase a song that'd sound good in any context, but a couple songs here sounded more purpose-built for acoustic arrangements, including "Gross Secret", played "in the style of Neil Young". This little song shows the band at their most self-aware, making a couple meta-observations and not sticking around for a second more than the idea requires.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Recording: Soundstreams

Artist: Soundstreams

Songs: Music for 18 Musicians (two excerpts) [composer: Steve Reich]

Recorded at Massey Hall (Steve Reich at 80), April 14, 2016.

Soundstreams - Music for 18 Musicians [excerpt 1]

Soundstreams - Music for 18 Musicians [excerpt 2]

The centrepiece of Soundscapes' season (with a series of spin-off concerts and other associated events) saw the new music ensemble upsize to a nearly sold-out Massey Hall for this celebration of American composer Steve Reich. Reich lead the evening off himself in a performance of Clapping Music (1972) with Russell Hartenberger — a most minimal act of minimalism from the sound of two sets of hands each clapping out a simple rhythm which slowly shifts for one of the players through a series of repetitions. That elemental percussive act was elaborated upon in the expansive Tehillim (1981) with a quartet of voices and further percussion adding layers of abstracted praise song.

The night's second half was given over to the epic Music for 18 Musicians (1976), a sustained rhythmic exercise in subtly-shifting textures. This performance came out at the longer end of the spectrum of performances of the piece at seventy-two minutes, which is a lot of time for the Reich Curve to rise and fall, rise and fall. Seeing this live involved grooving to the piece on two different (and sometimes contradictory) levels: the trance-inducing rhythms of the gloriously phasing pulses encouraging zone-out bliss while the fact of the performance itself constantly engaging one's attention. To the latter, it was fascinating to see how the eighteen musicians1, playing without a conductor, handled the heroic regularity that the piece demanded, through musical and physical cues as well as an elaborately-choreographed rotation system that saw musicians trade off spots (and musical duties) as the piece progressed. Fascinating and absorbing — and the piece sounded pretty good in the old house on Shuter, which can sometimes be an acoustically-underwhelming boomy room.


1 There was a fascinating mix of musicians in the ensemble, drawing from from the local New Music scene and beyond. For the record, the eighteen musicians were:

  • Lesley Bouza, voice
  • Michelle DeBoer, voice
  • Carla Huhtanen, voice
  • Laura Pudwell, voice
  • Anthony Thompson, clarinet/bass clarinet
  • Lori Freedman, clarinet/bass clarinet
  • Jesse Zubot, violin
  • David Hetherington, cello
  • Simon Docking, piano
  • Gregory Oh, piano
  • Tania Gill, piano
  • Stephanie Chua, piano
  • Ryan Scott, percussion
  • Russell Hartenberger, percussion
  • Garry Kvistad, percussion
  • Bob Becker, percussion
  • Michelle Colton, percussion
  • Haruka Fujii, percussion

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Recording: Jazz Bras Dot Com

Artist: Jazz Bras Dot Com

Songs: [excerpt, in two parts]

Recorded at Array Space (Somewhere There presents), April 13, 2016.

Jazz Bras Dot Com - [excerpt, part 1]

Jazz Bras Dot Com - [excerpt, part 2]

Harp, guitar and voice is perhaps not an obvious choice of instrumentation for an improvising trio — and forming a working group with its members based in Vancouver, NYC and Toronto is perhaps equally audacious. Finding common ground while at a jazz workshop at the Banff Centre, these player quickly gelled and their joint recordings there have been released as their debut album. Fairly even handed, Elisa Thorn's harp tended to focus a bit more on textures and Jessica Ackerely's guitar on noisy diversions, with Laura Swankey ranging from integrative wordless vocals to percussive smacks. It must take some dedication to haul a full-sized harp around for small-scale, noisy improvised music shows, but my understanding is that this brief tour included some further studio time, so expect this intermittent collaboration to continue when the musicians can gather themselves together.

[Laura Swankey, the locally-based member of this group, will be performing at The Tranzac tonight (April 20th) alongside vocalist Christine Duncan and guitarist Patrick O'Reilly.]

Recording: Luscar

Artist: Luscar

Songs: Hackle [composer: Robert Diack] / Improvisation / Etude 178 [composer: Emily Denison]*

Recorded at Array Space (Somewhere There presents), April 13, 2016.

Luscar - Hackle / Improvisation/ Etude 178

It's been exciting to see this cadre of younger players — many of whom are familiar to each other through music studies at U of T — making their presence known at recent Somewhere There events, both in the crowd and increasingly on stage as well. This group isn't afraid to get noisy, and after Solon Gee's echo-ringing disruptive intro, everyone starts chopping away. That the subtleties of the compositions are pushed aside a bit as the group bashed through the pieces isn't something to complain about — if anything, I'm quite happy that these musicians, all of whom with chops to spare, aren't settling for something merely "tasteful". (That was reaffirmed in the set's final piece, an ambitiously absurd love song from Anthony Argatoff called "Burrito Girl" that featured vocalist Laura Swankey in a high-shrieking duet with Argatoff's sax.)

* Thanks to Andrew for passing along the titles to these!

Recording: No Seas

Artist: No Seas

Song: [two sections]*

Recorded at Array Space (Somewhere There presents), April 13, 2016.

No Seas - [two sections]

Some intriguing work here from Alexei Orechin. With an array of pedals at his feet and a table full of cassettes and tape players the layout connotes "noise" — but Orechin instead brought something more subtle. Through there were some textured, tone-bending passages a lot of his playing was intricately organized in a way that connoted jazz chops rather than a noise attack, and my understanding is that even if there's room for some variance these pieces are composed, often in response to the tape-textures. Some parts (such as the latter portion on this extract) also brought to mind Black Walls' use of found sounds. Leaning on inspiration such as the piano in a Nina Simone piece, this subverts the expectations you might bring to Orechin's noise/lo-fi setup.

* Does anyone know the title to these? Please leave a comment!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Concert Listings Roundup #145

You can read more about why I'm doing listings here. Long story short: This curated and decidedly non-comprehensive list contains nothin' but shows that I am going to/would go to if I had more time.


Gig of the week:

Ice Cream [record release!] (Scott Hardware / Man Made Hill) / Smiling Buddha 2016-04-23 (Saturday) [FB event]

I was a huge fan of this band from their very first gig, so I'm glad to see them break out the "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" banner to celebrate the release of their first album. As we've seen in their videos and heard in what's been shared so far, Ben Cook has cleanly captured their cool, spare funk sound, so the platter should be a perfect soundtrack to putting on one's makeup and getting ready for a night on the town. Adding to the sense of occasion should be some particularly tasty support sets from weird/dance faves Man Made Hill and Scott Hardware.


This week's noteworthy shows:

Hogg/Schwager/Fortin/Dann / The Emmet Ray 2016-04-18 (Monday) [FB event]

The AMBiENT PiNG (feat. No Colour Blue [Castle If's Jess Forrest + Processor's M. Joakim] / Cult Eyes) / Ratio 2016-04-19 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Blunt Object [performing the music of Carla Bley] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2016-04-19 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Open Inputs (feat. Carmela Antonio / Derwatt / bioMecanico / Darling Cora & friends) / Holy Oak Café 2016-04-19 (Tuesday) [FB event]

No Octopus Dances / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2016-04-20 (Wednesday – early!) [FB event]

Christine Duncan/Patrick O'Reilly/Laura Swankey / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2016-04-20 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Images Festival: Earwitness 2016 ["live multimedia performance on a grand Yamaha disklavier"] (feat. Eve Egoyan with Nicole Lizée / Michael Snow / John Oswald / David Rokeby) / Aga Khan Museum 2016-04-21 (Thursday) [FB event]

Hearing Forward ["A Very Special Evening of Instant Composition, Original Works, and Poetical Excursions"] (feat. The Cluttertones with Paul Cram, Nick Fraser, and Tena Palmer) / Array Space 2016-04-21 (Thursday) [FB event]

STÜKA [tape release!]) (Viva Non / Besatzung / Wearenotwhoweare) / Smiling Buddha 2016-04-21 (Thursday) [FB event]

Daddy Long Legs (catl. / Noble Savages) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2016-04-21 (Thursday) [FB event]

Woods (Matt "Doc" Dunn) / The Garrison 2016-04-22 (Friday) [more info]

Suuns (Beliefs / Casper Skulls) / Adelaide Hall 2016-04-22 (Friday) [FB event]

Invocation presents Quiet Quiet Annex Lights (feat. Michael Hurley / Fiver) / The Tranzac (Main Hall) 2016-04-22 (Friday) [FB event]

In Search of Fury: Stephanie Chua & Adam Sherkin ["three solo sets that include works for piano (and electronics) by Zane Merritt, Elliott Carter and Toronto composers Adam Scime, Brian Harman, Emilie Lebel, Anna Höstman and Chris Thornborrow"] / Bunker Lane Press 2016-04-22 (Friday)

Eucalyptus [April Saturdays residency!] / Hirut Restaurant 2016-04-23 (Saturday – Good eats available but not obligatory! early show 7 to 10 p.m.!) [FB event]

Michael Hurley [second show added!] (Sandro Perri and friends) / Array Space Geary Lane 2016-04-23 (Saturday) [FB event]

B.A. Johnston (First Base / Crossdog) / Junction City Music Hall 2016-04-23 (Saturday) [FB event]

Wavelength 698 (feat. Tough Age / Century Palm / Germaphobes / Long Branch) / Monarch Tavern 2016-04-23 (Saturday) [FB event]

Eliza (Le Havre / Moonwood / Sensei) / Handlebar 2016-04-23 (Saturday) [FB event]

Grey Lands (Bad Girls / The B-Squad) / The Silver Dollar Room 2016-04-23 (Saturday) [FB event]

Earthly (Prince Nifty / Craig Dunsmuir & Dun Dun Man) / Double Double Land 2016-04-23 (Saturday) [FB event]

Somewhere There presents (feat. Anaïs Maviel / Max McEachern) / Array Space 2016-04-24 (Sunday) [FB event]


Add these to your calendar:

Reminder: This post only contains this week's updates — the full listings can always be found over on the right-hand sidebar!

Bloop/Unexplained Sounds (feat. Lina Allemano/Mike Smith/Germaine Liu/Nick Fraser) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2016-04-26 (Tuesday)

Nobuntu ["all-female a cappella group from Zimbabwe"] / Lula Lounge 2016-04-28 (Thursday) [FB event]

Womxn Pedalling ["a new performance, workshop and gathering series curated by Lido Pimienta showcasing womxn in music + exploring the use of loopers and pedal stations as core tools for music composition and performance"] (feat. Alissa Vox RAW / New Chance / Kira May / Witch Prophet) / Gladstone Hotel 2016-04-28 (Thursday) [FB event]

Melancholiac: the music of Scott Walker [remount of SummerWorks' interdisciplinary homage, feat. 30 musicians, singers and performers!] / Pia Bouman School for Ballet and Creative Movement 2016-04-28 (Thursday) [FB event]

Track Could Bend #14 (feat. Glamour Nails [Lina Allemano + Justin Haynes] / Terms Of Venery [Mike Smith, solo electronics] / Kosher Dill Spears) / Dundas Video 2016-05-03 (Tuesday – PWYC!) [FB event]

Wavelength 699 (feat. Partner / Kurt Marble / LOLAA / Entire Cities / The Fern Tips / Walrus) / The Silver Dollar Room 2016-05-05 (Thursday) [FB event]

Shhhhh ["celebrating the launch of the musical instrument lending library"] (feat. Deliluh / Dorothea Paas [solo] / Stucco) / Toronto Public Library – Parkdale Branch 2016-05-06 (Friday – free! all ages!) [FB event]

Shhhhh ["celebrating the launch of the musical instrument lending library"] (feat. Retired / New Positions / Blue Light / Kapali Carsi) / Toronto Public Library – Parkdale Branch, Basement Auditorium 2016-05-07 (Saturday – free! all ages! afternoon show @ 4:30 p.m.!) [FB event]

Nicole Dollanganger (Bad Channels / Straight Truth) / Smiling Buddha 2016-05-09 (Monday) [FB event]

Merganzer (Tess Roby / Best Fern) / The Tranzac (Main Hall) 2016-05-13 (Friday) [FB event]

Kid Congo Powers (Meanwood / Alpha Strategy) / The Silver Dollar Room 2016-05-19 (Thursday) [FB event]

Kate Maki & Fred Squire [double record release show!] / The Dakota Tavern 2016-06-11 (Saturday – early!) [FB event]

Art Bergmann (Ron Hawkins & The Do Good Assassins / Luxury Bob) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2016-06-23 (Thursday) [more info]

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Recording: sLAB

Artist: sLAB

Song: For Tony Conrad, Parts 1 + 2

Recorded at Array Space (Somewhere There's Second Sunday Series), April 10, 2016.

sLAB - For Tony Conrad [part 1]

sLAB - For Tony Conrad [part 2]

On what would surely be the last of April's cold and snowy nights, this quartet united in quadraphonic sound, setting up their amps in each corner of the room to spacialize their drones in tribute to the recently-departed Tony Conrad. Mike Daley, Michael Kaler, Dean Drouillard and Arnd Jurgenson used amp-tone and e-bows rather than copious pedal chains to generate their glacial sound structures. (They meet up regularly to do this, some results of which are posted over on their bandcamp.)

Recording: Queen Victrola

Artist: Queen Victrola

Songs: [two improvisations]

Recorded at Array Space (Somewhere There's Second Sunday Series), April 10, 2016.

Queen Victrola - [first piece]

Queen Victrola - [excerpt from third piece]

This quite wonderfully-named duo saw cellist cheryl o working with multi-instrumental wiz Michelangelo Iaffaldano, who played piano, guitar, clarinet, harp and accordion. Although Iaffaldano was often playing two of those instruments at a time, the music mostly involved around the interchange of spare, calming textures. On the second piece here, Iaffaldano set his violin on top of the piano and made little bowing swipes on the open strings while picking out piano notes.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Recording: Weaves

Artist: Weaves

Song: One More

Recorded at Toronto Reference Library (Make Some Noise 10th Anniversary), April 9, 2016.

Weaves - One More

Collecting and showcasing music by local, independent musicians, Make Some Noise has celebrated the shared spaces of the city's libraries with free, all-ages concerts for nearly a decade now. (I have rather fond memories of seeing Shad, The Old Soul, Great Lake Swimmers, Elliott Brood and LAL at the Reference Library at one of the series' launch shows back in November '06.) For this birthday party, the Make Some Noise crew teamed up with Buzz Records to bring some music to the warmly rounded contours of the library's cavernous atrium.

The crowd took in Twist's opening set fanned out across the wide arc of the atrium's floor as if they were enjoying a casual day in the park, but it only took a word of suggestion from Jasmyn Burke to get them on their feel and pressing in as Weaves got going. Just back in town from some time on the road, the band were telepathically tight and it felt like a real treat to see 'em at just this moment, poised for something on the cusp of their first full-length's release. That's gonna take the band away from T.O. for a good stretch of time, so it felt nice to see 'em lurching on their home turf before the rest of the world claims them.

Recording: Twist

Artist: Twist

Song: Soaked

Recorded at Toronto Reference Library (Make Some Noise 10th Anniversary), April 9, 2016.

Twist - Soaked

Collecting and showcasing music by local, independent musicians, Make Some Noise has celebrated the shared spaces of the city's libraries with free, all-ages concerts for nearly a decade now. (I have rather fond memories of seeing Shad, The Old Soul, Great Lake Swimmers, Elliott Brood and LAL at the Reference Library at one of the series' launch shows back in November '06.) For this birthday party, the Make Some Noise crew teamed up with Buzz Records to bring some music to the warmly rounded contours of the library's cavernous atrium.

The last time I checked in with Twist, Laura Hermiston and co. were still adjusting to being a full-fledged band. Now, though, they've evolved into a satisfying pop machine, with a hint of Fleetwood Mac-style slickness in Hermiston's songs leavened with just enough grunge-grit. The crowd took this in attentively and sitting on the floor – by the time the band's album comes out later this year I suspect there'll be a few more folks up on their feet for this.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Recording: Sarah Fraser-Raff

Artist: Sarah Fraser-Raff

Song: The Beginning Of Infinity, 3rd movement [composer: Jeremy Bellaviti]

Recorded at The Music Gallery (Emergents III), April 8, 2016.

Sarah Fraser-Raff - The Beginning Of Infinity [3rd mvt]

The second half of this Alex Samaras-curated showcase saw violinist Sarah Fraser-Raff play this brand new piece, composed by Jeremy Bellaviti especially for the event. The music was inspired and shaped by the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics in the David Deutsch book from which the piece has taken its title. Over five movements, Fraser-Raff managed to explore a lot of terrain without the piece getting showy or concerned with merely technical aspects. A sole musical voice in the darkened and hushed space of the Music Gallery's santuary, this was quite entrancing.

[This year's Emergents series concludes on Thursday, May 26th. Curated by Ben Dietschi, the night will match the Kiri Koto Ensemble with a set of music performed on Boomwhackers (yes, those plastic tubed people band together at sporting events).]

Recording: The Science of What?

Artist: The Science of What?

Song: Who Am I [composer: Leonard Bernstein]

Recorded at The Music Gallery (Emergents III), April 8, 2016.

The Science of What? - Who Am I

Alex Samaras has one of the city's most beautiful singing voices, so anyone he chose to spotlight for that talent at a show he was curating is definitely worth taking note of. In fact, it turned out that I had heard Jessica Chen sing a couple months back as a standout member of the Humber Composers Collective at the Somewhere There Festival. But when joined only by guitarist Justin Orok, there was even more room for her voice to shine. The pair tackled an intriguing range of material, from standards to Messiaen to the showtune heard here from the stage version of Peter Pan with music by Leonard Bernstein (Chen noted her rendition owed a heavy debt to Nine Simone's interpretation). Orok's contributions ranged from unnderstated accompaniment to some noisier abstracted textures on an "out" interpretation of "Someone To Watch Over Me". Technically accomplished but not too precious about their material (they've tackled Elliot Smith and Thom Yorke on stage alongside their own original material), this is recommended to local fans of, say, Thom Gill and Felicity Williams-styled sophisto-pop.

[This year's Emergents series concludes on Thursday, May 26th. Curated by Ben Dietschi, the night will match the Kiri Koto Ensemble with a set of music performed on Boomwhackers (yes, those plastic tubed people band together at sporting events).]

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Images Festival 2016: Preview

Images Festival

April 14-23, 2016

The Images festival is to cinema what noise (or drone, or free improvisation) is to music — unhindered by, and desirous of surpassing, traditional structures and throwing out traditional tired narratives to find new kinds of emotional connections. Like noise (or drone, or free improvisation) that means it's less user-friendly and not every experiment works — and it can even fall into its own narrow clichés. But for those that find satisfaction in the rough, the unfamiliar and in terrain where the dots aren't connected for you, there's ample rewards for taking a chance.

Billed as "the largest festival in North America for experimental and independent moving image culture", Images brings a full slate of screenings, installations, talks and more each time spring rolls around. Every year, the festival challenges itself to not be constrained by format or technology, spending ample time away from the movie screens to investigate parallel paths in other artistic disciplines.

The on-screen portion on the festival begins tomorrow with Factory Complex, an experimental documentary from Im Heung Soon tracing a dark side of Korea's economic miracle — the brutal conditions faced by the women employed in the country's factories. The film's strength comes from a series of intimate face-to-face interviews with workers, some of whom suffered from health problems from under-regulated industries, and some of whom fought back through the union movement and other protests. It's no triumphant David-versus-Goliath story as the investigation detours to Cambodia to see the same capitalist logic being imposed on the factories' new low-wage homes while Korea's transition to a service economy makes sees the same disregard for workers' rights being replicated in new workplaces. Around this narrative, historical footage and some meditative moments of calm subtly comment on and deconstruct the spoken narratives. [Screening at The Royal, Friday, April 15th at 7:00 p.m.]

Although there are standout features like Factory Complex (and a special retrospective screening of Chantal Akerman's News From Home) the best viewing at Images often comes from the shorts programs – for someone looking to dip a toe into these waters, this is definitely a great place to start. I had a chance to view the Toronto-centric Conundrum Clinique programme, and it's worth checking out, especially for Robin Collyer's excellent CLOSED, a montage of elegiac static shots of bins of merchandise and other nooks inside Honest Ed's, the beloved garish tackiness rendered sad and lonely in its depopulated emptiness. That landmark of a now-passing pre-condo Toronto can be nicely contrasted with Oliver Husain's Parade, which presents the new city of glass boxes as austere and unsullied sci-fi settings. [Conundrum Clinique screens at Jackman Hall on Saturday, April 16th at 9:00 p.m.]

There's a lot that looks compelling in the rest of the shorts programmes (including How Should A Person Be?, whose title was inspired by Sheila Heti's novel) but the most vital might be the Black Radical Imagination showcase, which feels perfectly timed with the social currents pumping through the city's cultural veins right now. [PWYC screening at Jackman Hall on Monday, April 18th at 9:00 p.m.]

There's way more going on in the talks and installations that you should look into, but I do want to highlight two excellent musical events. After the screening of Factory Complex tomorrow, the action shifts to The Garrison for the Opening Night Party, which includes performances from the excellent Petra Glynt and Cris Derksen and a special performance by HATAW.

Petra Glynt - Of This Land [live at Wavelength FOURTEEN, February 15, 2014]

Cris Derksen - War Cry, Movement I [live at Track Could Bend #13, January 5, 2016]

Grander in scale, the festival heads to the beautiful Aga Khan Museum for Earwitness, "a series of projects conceived by Eve Egoyan that explore the intersection of sound and visual elements as equal creative partners." Nicole Lizée, Michael Snow, John Oswald, and David Rokeby join Egoyan for a "live multimedia performance on a grand Yamaha Disklavier, an acoustic piano with a built-in digital interface." I'm not sure what sort of synesthetic concoctions the musicians are going to come up with, but this should be a most interesting experiment. [Thursday, April 21, 2016 at 8:00 p.m.]

TICKETS + MORE INFO

Tickets for most screenings is an affordable $12, and you can grab 'em online if you're planning ahead. Except for the opening and closing events, screenings take place in the lovely Jackman Hall at the AGO. You can make all your plans at the festival's calendar page.

Recording: Randy Gagne/Kayla Milmine/James Bailey

Artist: Randy Gagne/Kayla Milmine/James Bailey

Song: [edited excerpt]

Recorded at Dundas Video ("Track Could Bend #13"), April 5, 2016.

Randy Gagne/Kayla Milmine/James Bailey - [edited excerpt]

To my great surprise and delight, Track Could Bend has survived and thrived for a full year. To celebrate, I invited everyone who played the series' first twelve months (more than seventy people!) back for a birthday party. In the end, the night consisted of twenty-seven musicians collaborating over eight short sets, most of which were spontaneous "bands from a hat", drawn by lot before the set started. Given the wide range of musical practices and backgrounds, it was quite exciting to see how much coherence and excellence resulted.

Closing out an action-packed night, the final set saw Randy Gagne (who performed as Man Made Hill at TCB#10) hunching over his synth at the front of the stage, exchanging blips and riffs with a pair of horn players. James Bailey (TCB#12) wandered the floor with his clarinet at the outset before joining Kayla Milmine (TCB#2 + TCB#10) in a musical conversation that closed things out in a most satisfactory manner.

[The next Track Could Bend will be at Dundas Video on Tuesday, May 3rd, featuring Kosher Dill Spears, Terms Of Venery (Mike Smith, solo electronics) and Glamour Nails (Lina Allemano + Justin Haynes).]

Recording: Scott Cameron/Chris Sankey/Michelle Breslin/Brian Abbott

Artist: Scott Cameron/Chris Sankey/Michelle Breslin/Brian Abbott

Song: [first piece]

Recorded at Dundas Video ("Track Could Bend #13"), April 5, 2016.

Scott Cameron/Chris Sankey/Michelle Breslin/Brian Abbott - [first piece]

To my great surprise and delight, Track Could Bend has survived and thrived for a full year. To celebrate, I invited everyone who played the series' first twelve months (more than seventy people!) back for a birthday party. In the end, the night consisted of twenty-seven musicians collaborating over eight short sets, most of which were spontaneous "bands from a hat", drawn by lot before the set started. Given the wide range of musical practices and backgrounds, it was quite exciting to see how much coherence and excellence resulted.

By luck of the draw, this set put together three members of the Ghostlight collective (who had played at TCB#5) with Brian Abbott (TCB#2) so it's not surprising that there was some obvious familiarity between the players. Framed by a spoken-word paraphrase of an incident from Charles Bukowski's Women, this headed into a crisp rock groove, smoothly lumbering down the highway like a '78 Buick.

[The next Track Could Bend will be at Dundas Video on Tuesday, May 3rd, featuring Kosher Dill Spears, Terms Of Venery (Mike Smith, solo electronics) and Glamour Nails (Lina Allemano + Justin Haynes).]

Recording: David Jones + APA

Artist: David Jones + APA

Song: [excerpt]

Recorded at Dundas Video ("Track Could Bend #13"), April 5, 2016.

David Jones + APA - [excerpt]

To my great surprise and delight, Track Could Bend has survived and thrived for a full year. To celebrate, I invited everyone who played the series' first twelve months (more than seventy people!) back for a birthday party. In the end, the night consisted of twenty-seven musicians collaborating over eight short sets, most of which were spontaneous "bands from a hat", drawn by lot before the set started. Given the wide range of musical practices and backgrounds, it was quite exciting to see how much coherence and excellence resulted.

There are electromagnetic fields all around us, moved by us and passing through us. Are they ghosts, in but not quite of our world — or is it the other way around? Maybe it's our clumsy bodies and crude tools that are the impositions on a realm of pure energy. That mysterious zone between the two was tentatively mapped out in an exploratory joint expedition from APA (who played at TCB#8) and David Jones (TCB#11). APA tore some sonic fragments from the physical world while Jones (via a homemade Elektrosluch) tugged the invisible waves from a table full of of cellphones and electronic devices into the audible spectrum. Not overtly concerned with obvious musicality, this sonic sculpture created a faint sense of dislocation — like standing beside a hydro pole and feeling the hairs on the back of your neck bristle.

[The next Track Could Bend will be at Dundas Video on Tuesday, May 3rd, featuring Kosher Dill Spears, Terms Of Venery (Mike Smith, solo electronics) and Glamour Nails (Lina Allemano + Justin Haynes).]

Recording: Ah! la lettre!/James Beardmore/Ian McPhedran/Dave Rodgers

Artist: Ah! la lettre!/James Beardmore/Ian McPhedran/Dave Rodgers

Song: [edited excerpt]

Recorded at Dundas Video ("Track Could Bend #13"), April 5, 2016.

Ah! la lettre!/James Beardmore/Ian McPhedran/Dave Rodgers - [edited excerpt]

To my great surprise and delight, Track Could Bend has survived and thrived for a full year. To celebrate, I invited everyone who played the series' first twelve months (more than seventy people!) back for a birthday party. In the end, the night consisted of twenty-seven musicians collaborating over eight short sets, most of which were spontaneous "bands from a hat", drawn by lot before the set started. Given the wide range of musical practices and backgrounds, it was quite exciting to see how much coherence and excellence resulted.

This quartet fell into some heavy, menacing drone-noise — not strange territory to Ian McPhedran (who played with Someflowers of Hell at TCB#3) or Dave Rodgers (who played with Ghostlight at TCB#5) — that seemed to sync quite well with Full Metal Jacket, which was playing on the big screen beside the band. It lurched its way into a sort of groove framed by some chord organ from Ah! la lettre! (TCB#2) and was kept unstable with some synth and spring reverb bursts from James Beardmore (who performed as Cares at TCB#11).

[The next Track Could Bend will be at Dundas Video on Tuesday, May 3rd, featuring Kosher Dill Spears, Terms Of Venery (Mike Smith, solo electronics) and Glamour Nails (Lina Allemano + Justin Haynes).]

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Recording: Neil Rankin/{AN} eel/Michael Kaler/Glen Hall

Artist: Neil Rankin/{AN} eel/Michael Kaler/Glen Hall

Song: [excerpt from first piece]

Recorded at Dundas Video ("Track Could Bend #13"), April 5, 2016.

Neil Rankin/{AN} eel/Michael Kaler/Glen Hall - [excerpt from first piece]

To my great surprise and delight, Track Could Bend has survived and thrived for a full year. To celebrate, I invited everyone who played the series' first twelve months (more than seventy people!) back for a birthday party. In the end, the night consisted of twenty-seven musicians collaborating over eight short sets, most of which were spontaneous "bands from a hat", drawn by lot before the set started. Given the wide range of musical practices and backgrounds, it was quite exciting to see how much coherence and excellence resulted.

This quartet fell right into an off-kilter groove, presenting a spontaneous no-wave prog-suite driven by grooves from bassist Michael Kaler (part of Alaniaris at TCB#6) and saxophonist Glen Hall (who had performed as part of Rub Out The Word at TCB#9). Neil Rankin (who had left a trail of Slime at TCB#5) crouched in front of the stage, using a radio and some pedals to add some sonic textures while Neal Retke (a.k.a {AN} Eel, featured pop stylist at TCB#10) tied everything together with his presence and vocal babblebursts.

[The next Track Could Bend will be at Dundas Video on Tuesday, May 3rd, featuring Kosher Dill Spears, Terms Of Venery (Mike Smith, solo electronics) and Glamour Nails (Lina Allemano + Justin Haynes).]

Recording: Anna Mērnieks/Mike Duffield/Colin Fisher/Kristel Jax

Artist: Anna Mērnieks/Mike Duffield/Colin Fisher/Kristel Jax

Song: [edited excerpt]

Recorded at Dundas Video ("Track Could Bend #13"), April 5, 2016.

Anna Mērnieks/Mike Duffield/Colin Fisher/Kristel Jax - [edited excerpt]

To my great surprise and delight, Track Could Bend has survived and thrived for a full year. To celebrate, I invited everyone who played the series' first twelve months (more than seventy people!) back for a birthday party. In the end, the night consisted of twenty-seven musicians collaborating over eight short sets, most of which were spontaneous "bands from a hat", drawn by lot before the set started. Given the wide range of musical practices and backgrounds, it was quite exciting to see how much coherence and excellence resulted.

This musical collusion saw Colin Fisher (who, as in his appearance with Body Help at TCB#7, was playing guitar) and Mike Duffield (drummer double duty at TCB#3 in Someflowers of Hell and Demerised Elf Funk) look like they were ready for some serious action when Kristel Jax (who played TCB#3 as Brigitte Bardon't) launched things on another trajectory entirely by interjecting a looped radioblast of a pop song. Anna Mērnieks (the other half of Demerised Elf Funk) was on saxophone, and glided above the fray as everyone found their equilibrium — soon sounds were sliding past each other like fragments of half-heard radio stations as the needle slid down the dial.

[The next Track Could Bend will be at Dundas Video on Tuesday, May 3rd, featuring Kosher Dill Spears, Terms Of Venery (Mike Smith, solo electronics) and Glamour Nails (Lina Allemano + Justin Haynes).]

Recording: Matt Miller/Ben Sirois/Leslie Predie/Minesh Mandoda

Artist: Matt Miller/Ben Sirois/Leslie Predie/Minesh Mandoda

Song: [excerpt]

Recorded at Dundas Video ("Track Could Bend #13"), April 5, 2016.

Matt Miller/Ben Sirois/Leslie Predie/Minesh Mandoda - [excerpt]

To my great surprise and delight, Track Could Bend has survived and thrived for a full year. To celebrate, I invited everyone who played the series' first twelve months (more than seventy people!) back for a birthday party. In the end, the night consisted of twenty-seven musicians collaborating over eight short sets, most of which were spontaneous "bands from a hat", drawn by lot before the set started. Given the wide range of musical practices and backgrounds, it was quite exciting to see how much coherence and excellence resulted.

The first "band from a hat" set the bar high with an eerie and atmospheric horror-movie soundtrack. Leslie Predie (who performed at TCB#4) set the tone here with her wordless feral vocalizations, but rather than Doom Ticker's hunting sprint, this was more of a sedate lope thanks to the glide of Minesh Mandoda's guitar (part of Ghostlight at TCB#5) and Ben Sirois' violin (part of Someflowers of Hell at TCB#3). Matt Miller (who had performed as part of Rub Out The Word at TCB#9) completed the vibe with his realtime ipad manipulations, adding static bursts and other unsettling noises.

[The next Track Could Bend will be at Dundas Video on Tuesday, May 3rd, featuring Kosher Dill Spears, Terms Of Venery (Mike Smith, solo electronics) and Glamour Nails (Lina Allemano + Justin Haynes).]

Recording: Jason Doell + Ted Phillips

Artist: Jason Doell + Ted Phillips

Song: [edited excerpt]

Recorded at Dundas Video ("Track Could Bend #13"), April 5, 2016.

Jason Doell + Ted Phillips - [edited excerpt]

To my great surprise and delight, Track Could Bend has survived and thrived for a full year. To celebrate, I invited everyone who played the series' first twelve months (more than seventy people!) back for a birthday party. In the end, the night consisted of twenty-seven musicians collaborating over eight short sets, most of which were spontaneous "bands from a hat", drawn by lot before the set started. Given the wide range of musical practices and backgrounds, it was quite exciting to see how much coherence and excellence resulted.

The night started with a non-hat set and, in fact, the only grouping that I had "curated" on the night. Ted Phillips (who had performed as part of Rub Out The Word at TCB#9) had brought up the idea of using recordings from the first year of TCB as source material for his cataRT granular synthesis, so I suggested that Jason Doell (part of Nidus at TCB#2) might be an ideal sparring partner if he brought along his customized "plunderphonics" PD patch. The resulting collaboration had tiny reconfigured sound-fragments that hovered just past the limit of recognizability — improvised music rising out of its own ashes into something new.

[The next Track Could Bend will be at Dundas Video on Tuesday, May 3rd, featuring Kosher Dill Spears, Terms Of Venery (Mike Smith, solo electronics) and Glamour Nails (Lina Allemano + Justin Haynes).]